A man and a woman stand side-by-side, examining and pointing at different places on a large piece of paper. The paper is held by the man, who wears khakis and a dark plaid shirt. The woman wears a gold wristwatch, a white-and-tan striped dress, and a dark blazer. The two people stand in a large room, which also holds two long wooden tables lined with plastic chairs. Framed art hangs along one wall and large windows fill most of another wall.
When your new manager is taking on responsibilities, communication is key. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss any problems or obstacles that pop up. — Getty Images/kate_sept2004

Delegation helps small business owners focus on high-value activities. It’s critical to growth yet challenging to give up control. These obstacles are compounded when delegating to a first-time manager without a proven track record. You may feel tempted to micromanage them or hesitant to hand over complex tasks.

However, a clear process can ease your mind and help your new manager gain confidence. Use these tips to learn how to assign tasks to your team member and get the desired results.

Decide what to delegate to a first-time manager

Responsibilities vary among supervisors and depend on your management team structure and business size. Typically, entrepreneurs assign duties related to everyday operations, such as inventory or staff scheduling. But your new supervisor may have unique competencies, making them better-suited for certain tasks.

For example, a first-time manager experienced in customer relations may have stellar interpersonal skills but need to become more familiar with hiring processes. The key is to understand their strengths and weaknesses before delegating tasks. In this case, your new manager could handle initial interactions with job applicants but require your help during the interviewing stage.

[Read more: 5 Things All First-Time Managers Should Know]

Describe tasks and measurable outcomes

Your first-time manager should understand what they need to do, how and when to do it, and why it matters. Provide these details in a process document that defines the goals and time frame. Explain what a successful outcome looks like and how you will measure it.

Let’s say you’re turning over scheduling duties. Your new manager likely understands the basics: Fill open slots with available employees and share the schedule with staff. But a lot more goes into it.

For scheduling duties, your process document should include the following:

  • Scheduling software details.
  • Request-off methods.
  • Standards for approving or denying time off.
  • Examples of schedules for slow and peak seasons.
  • Rules for schedule changes.
  • Impact of scheduling on cash flow and customer experience.
  • Deadlines.

Follow a process for assigning duties

Take a hands-on approach when transferring tasks to a first-time manager. Your system should account for different learning styles. Offer written and visual guides, then walk the new manager through your workflow.

Your first-time manager should understand what they need to do, how and when to do it, and why it matters

QuickBooks offers a helpful process for delegating to first-time managers:

  • Observe: Ask your new manager to watch you complete the task. During this time, they could take notes and ask questions.
  • Supervise: Switch roles and have your manager do the activity. Monitor them and offer feedback as needed.
  • Solo it: Have them complete the task alone. Set aside time to meet up afterward to review their work and answer any questions.

Use technology to achieve accountability

Project management tools can streamline communication, provide progress updates, and reduce your desire to hover or micromanage. Cloud software also makes delegating easier because you can assign tasks by tagging your new manager. Most platforms let you attach files and integrate with other systems, like your company calendar and contact management programs. Consider free and paid tools like Trello, Asana, and Basecamp.

[Read more: 7 Free Online Classes for Managers]

Cultivate independence while offering support

While it’s important to touch base with your first-time manager, don’t micromanage them. Some things must be learned on the job, so take a step back and let them gain the confidence to do it independently. Encourage your new manager to take ownership of their duties, including some freedom to alter the workflow or suggest improvements as long as the result is the same.

Continually assess communications

Regular check-ins are critical to success with a first-time manager. This communication allows you to manage expectations, catch potential problems, and provide support. Initially, you may want frequent in-person or virtual meetings. Over time, weekly discussions could be less necessary, allowing you to rely more on your project management or communications tools. Be flexible and find communication methods that satisfy you and your manager while maximizing productivity.

[Read more: How to Create a Successful Internal Communications Strategy]

Turn mistakes into learning opportunities

Create a feedback loop to recognize and address errors or unexpected situations. Start by privately reviewing what happened (or didn’t happen). Next, discuss your concerns discreetly to avoid undercutting your new manager’s authority in front of employees. Give them a chance to understand where mistakes were made and how to prevent them in the future. Use their feedback and your insights to adjust your delegation or training process.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Take our reader survey!

We want to hear from you! Take our brief reader survey and tell us about your business so we can provide the best possible content and the most timely events. Respondents can also enter to win a $100 gift card.



Published November 27, 2022